A Valencia native, Adell is one of our English to Spanish Language Specialists as well as a musician at heart. A Master’s Degree holder in Audiovisual Translation, he believes translation is about mastering your native language. He shares his insights in this interview.
Occupation: Audiovisual translator
Gengo LS since: January 2017
Language pair: English to Spanish
What languages do you speak? How do you maintain language proficiency?
I’m a native speaker of Spanish and Catalan. I feel comfortable speaking English, my work language, and I got some knowledge of German and Italian. What I do to stay fluent in English is to read and watch a good deal of content. Also, if I’m lazing around, I sometimes think of how to express my thoughts in English.
How did you become a translator?
No fancy story behind this: I’ve always loved languages so when the time came I opted for a Translation degree at university. I was curious about how a message can change from one language to another.
What have been your most enjoyable and challenging translation experiences?
After university, I went on a two-year break and worked in a hostel —an experience I would totally recommend to everyone! Then I decided to take a Master’s Degree in Audiovisual Translation, which I’m about to finish, and it has already opened me some doors. Some months ago, I started working as an audiovisual translator and had the chance to translate a TV show of one of my favorite comedy groups ever: Monty Python!
What’s your favorite thing about being a translator? How about being a language specialist?
I love the way translation is an open and diverse field, where many different opportunities can come from: one day you’re translating a book of poetry, then the next day you happen upon a movie or a videogame. In addition, I take translation as a creative exercise where there’s no right or wrong answer. For me, it’s about transforming a situation dressed in a source language by trying to figure out how it would have been if the author had thought it in the target language.
Also, being a Reviewer gives me the daily chance to revisit my native language and helps me find out nuances or tricky features I may overlook otherwise. In the end, reviewing other’s translations is a two-way learning process!
Based on your specific cultural expertise, what are the best books or movies you would recommend to others?
One book that comes to my mind is Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez. You know what’s in store from page one, but it manages to keep your eyes glued to every word. Márquez uses language in such a way that it feels like he’s singing instead of writing. I’ve read it several times over the years and it never disappoints!
As for films, it has to be Whiplash by Damien Chazelle. It’s one of those movies where the plot may be the least important thing given how beautifully crafted the movie itself is. It helped me understand cinema better some time ago.
What are your preferred translation tools?
I’m really fond of Memsource, a web-based editor, and Subtitle Workshop, a subtitling tool.
What’s your favorite productivity tool or service?
I used to carry a notebook with me everywhere, but I always ended up losing it. Nowadays, even though I’m one of those dinosaurs that still prefer paper over digital stuff, I use a note-taking app called Google Keep to write down ideas and organize my thoughts.
What are your top tips for those translators who are just starting out?
What really stood out for me when I was studying is how translation is not so much about being proficient in a foreign language but about mastering your native language. It’s important to understand a message but you also have to be able to use your mother tongue to create the best outcome for each situation.
Also, translation is a very vast field, so try to find a balance between what you’re good at and what you like the most and go for it!
Do you have any specific translation advice to translators in your language pair?
Getting to know your mother tongue and its rules is a must if you’re working professionally with languages. Consult Fundéu articles, resort to RAE for shades in meaning and read the news on a daily basis.
Remember that being a translator isn’t all about knowing and mastering languages. We’re wordsmiths and our words serve as mirrors to how we see the world. So stay hungry for culture as well!
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